Check Your Drawers: Americans Waste $21 Billion on Forgotten Gift Cards

More than 61% of Americans say they want to cash or a gift card for Christmas.

Yet more than a third of of consumers end up with a partially used or unredeemed gift card, according to a Bankrate study.

About half of all consumers have a gift card or store credit worth about $167.

That amounts to over $21 billion dollars in wasted gift card funds.

Ted Rossman, a consumer industry analyst for said that, “Gift cards are as good as real money [and] people forget about them.”

In fact, more than 57% of respondents said that they have held onto gift cards for over a year or more.

Many consumers may mistakenly believe that gift cards become invalid soon after purchase. That is not the case.

Before 2009, most consumers couldn’t accurately predict when a gift card would expire.

The Federal Reserve’s Truth in Lending regulation of 2009 set out to fix this by mandating that gift card issuers make expiration dates plainly visible on gift cards.

In addition, gift cards cannot legally expire for at least 5 years from the original date of issue.

Impulse buying

Throwing out or forgetting about a gift card is literally throwing away money.

Meanwhile, Americans waste incredible amounts of money on purchases while not making enough money to afford them in the first place.

The average American owns about $38,000 in debt. Meanwhile, the average annual American salary is barely $49,000.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Americans habitually waste money on purchases that they later come to regret.

According to a consumer research poll conducted by One Poll and Ladder, American consumers spend almost $1,500 every month on impulsive and nonessential purchases.

That’s essentially $18,000 being wasted annually on impulse buys.

A 2017 Pew Trust research study found that 46% of Americans spend more money than they generate every month.